Superfreakonomics – Illustrated Edition by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

19 Jan

Take the facts and figures from the desk of an esteemed mathematician and mix them with the zany ponderings of a philosopher and you will have created a concoction of Superfreakonomics.

Superfreakonomics, as debated by Levitt – winner of the John Bates Clark medal, a prize for the most influential economist under the age of forty – and Dubner – a former writer and editor at The New York Times Magazine – are fascinating true stories that are told to remind the reader that the world is a peculiar and extraordinary place. Their original Freakonomics sold over four million copies worldwide in 2005, and has now been revived with images and diagrams to give an extra dimension to the tales at hand. The original book features topics such as ‘assassinating mosquitoes’ and ‘a variety of ways to postpone death’ and is now presented with added pictures, photographs and panels of data because “sometimes numbers and words aren’t enough”.

My favourite chapter was one entitled ‘How is a street prostitute like a department-store Santa?’ Exploring, initially, some outrageous statistics that surround the profession of prostitution, the chapter goes on to explore the ever prevalent sexism that exists in the world – for example through the inclusion of a graph that clearly shows male earnings to exceed female earnings in a number of professions – and looks to history to try and explain these inconsistencies. It featured the 10 “rules to live by” of a 1920s Anti-Flirt Group, created by women who were disturbed by the “growing forthrightness of males” and included regulations such as:

Don’t wink: a flutter of one eye may cause a tear in the other.

Don’t accept rides from flirting motorists: they don’t invite you in to save you a walk.

All in all Superfreakonomics uses hard hitting statistics and data to solidify some of the most bizarre elements of human life, thus baffling the reader and reminding them of what a crazy place the world really is. This eccentrically written masterpiece will be sure to give you something unusual to talk about at your next dinner party and is filled with fascinating trivia.

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10

Superfreakonomics is published by Allen Lane, an imprint of Penguin Books, and will encourage you to ponder all of life’s little issues for £20.00.

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